Frequency of the congenital transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and is endemic in much of Latin America. With increased globalisation and immigration, it is a risk in any country, partly through congenital transmission. The frequency of congenital transmission is unclear.
To assess the frequency of congenital transmission of T. cruzi.
PubMed, Journals@Ovid Full Text, EMBASE, CINAHL, Fuente Academica and BIREME databases were searched using seven search terms related to Chagas disease or T. cruzi and congenital transmission.
The inclusion criteria were the following: Dutch, English, French, Portuguese or Spanish language; case report, case series or observational study; original data on congenital T. cruzi infection in humans; congenital infection rate reported or it could be derived. This systematic review included 13 case reports/series and 51 observational studies.
Data collection and analysis
Two investigators independently collected data on study characteristics, diagnosis and congenital infection rate. The principal summary measure – the congenital transmission rate – is defined as the number of congenitally infected infants divided by the number of infants born to infected mothers. A random effects model was used.
The pooled congenital transmission rate was 4.7% (95% confidence interval: 3.9–5.6%). Countries where T. cruzi is endemic had a higher rate of congenital transmission compared with countries where it is not endemic (5.0% versus 2.7%).
Congenital transmission of Chagas disease is a global problem. Overall risk of congenital infection in infants born to infected mothers is about 5%. The congenital mode of transmission requires targeted screening to prevent future cases of Chagas disease.